New Zealand get sucked into time warp at Lord’s

 

Perhaps New Zealand got carried away by the throwback theme to proceedings till that point. There can be no other explanation for their abysmal, and on occasion, bizarre attempt at chasing down a below-par total at Lord’s.In their defence – sort of – it had been that kind of day. You could almost feel at times like you’d been shipped back to a different era – say some two decades ago – of ODI cricket at Lord’s. Australia laboured their way to 243/9. Their openers had failed for a change and had brought the focus on their middle-order.Usman Khawaja top-scored with a knock that could best be described as him having dropped sheet anchor – a phrase that is unlikely to have been used in a cricketing context since the twilight of the 20th century. Alex Carey played the kind of run-a-ball cameo that back then would have earned him sensational plaudits along with a few raised eyebrows for his brazen and gung-ho new-age approach to digging his team out of a hole. Australia’s final total, though 7 runs short of 250 – the 300 of the 1990s generation – seemed reasonable and maybe even decent.Yes, the used pitch, the same one where Australia had taken England on three days earlier, did play a huge part in all this. The curator had left some grass on it, but to no avail and the pitch had ended up playing like one of those late low-slow surfaces from the 90s somewhere in Auckland or Napier.And the likes of Colin de Grandhomme and James Neesham had duly invoked the spirits of Gavin Larsen and Willie Watson, maybe even Nathan Astle just to ensure this isn’t yet another reminder of 1992, and been the most economical bowlers on the day. We had also seen an ODI hat-trick, which somehow seemed to come around a lot more often in that period, and even a moustachioed fast bowler – when was the last time you saw one of those? So when Martin Guptill and Henry Nicholls kicked off their pursuit of 244 on snooze mode – save a couple of wild swings from the veteran opener – followed by Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor looking to play themselves in and graft out a partnership. You couldn’t help but feel the Kiwis had truly been sucked into some time warp. In an era where teams keep talking about intent, here was a New Zealand batting line-up trying their best to pretend it had never appeared in their syllabus. Again, the pitch did play a role, but not to the extent where a team couldn’t even attempt to break the tedium and be a tad adventurous.Nicholls, who replaced Colin Munro for this game, was the only one to even look to score at any reasonable rate, at least when he struck Mitchell Starc for two consecutive fours in the sixth over. But though Starc would return to take yet another five-wicket haul – starting with the wicket of Williamson, which is the fifth time he’s just come on and removed the opposition top-scorer in the tournament -the game was perhaps lost in the first 10 overs of the Kiwi chase as they stuttered along to 31-1. From that point on, the Kiwis were always playing catch-